Product Management Reading List

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Recently I was asked: What Product Management books do you recommend?

As I dug through my Kindle list, I realized that most of my recommendations are less about the mechanics of product management and more about the process of creating and the right products for the right markets.

Every product manager will have their own list, but these books have been influential to my approach to product management.

Let me know what you think!

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

START WITH WHY shows that the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world all think, act, and communicate the same way — and it’s the opposite of what everyone else does. Sinek calls this powerful idea The Golden Circle, and it provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be led, and people can be inspired. And it all starts with WHY.

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant

In this perennial bestseller, embraced by organizations and industries worldwide, globally preeminent management thinkers W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne challenge everything you thought you knew about the requirements for strategic success. Recognized as one of the most iconic and impactful strategy books ever written, Blue Ocean Strategy, now updated with fresh content from the authors, argues that cutthroat competition results in nothing but a bloody red ocean of rivals fighting over a shrinking profit pool. Based on a study of 150 strategic moves (spanning more than 100 years across 30 industries), the authors argue that lasting success comes not from battling competitors but from creating “blue oceans”—untapped new market spaces ripe for growth.

Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing – Proven Steps to Inspire Confidence and Seize New Growth

BLUE OCEAN SHIFT is the essential follow up to Blue Ocean Strategy, the classic and 3.6 million copy global bestseller by world-renowned professors W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. Drawing on more than a decade of new work, Kim and Mauborgne show you how to move beyond competing, inspire your people’s confidence, and seize new growth, guiding you step-by-step through how to take your organization from a red ocean crowded with competition to a blue ocean of uncontested market space. By combining the insights of human psychology with practical market-creating tools and real-world guidance, Kim and Mauborgne deliver the definitive guide to shift yourself, your team, or your organization to new heights of confidence, market creation, and growth. They show why nondisruptive creation is as important as disruption in seizing new growth.

Crossing the Chasm, 3rd Edition: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers

The bible for bringing cutting-edge products to larger markets–now revised and updated with new insights into the realities of high-tech marketing

In Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey A. Moore shows that in the Technology Adoption Life Cycle–which begins with innovators and moves to early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards–there is a vast chasm between the early adopters and the early majority. While early adopters are willing to sacrifice for the advantage of being first, the early majority waits until they know that the technology actually offers improvements in productivity. The challenge for innovators and marketers is to narrow this chasm and ultimately accelerate adoption across every segment.

Badass: Making Users Awesome

Imagine you’re in a game with one objective: a bestselling product or service. The rules? No marketing budget, no PR stunts, and it must be sustainably successful. No short-term fads.

This is not a game of chance. It is a game of skill and strategy.

And it begins with a single question: given competing products of equal pricing, promotion, and perceived quality, why does one outsell the others?

The answer doesn’t live in the sustainably successful products or services. The answer lives in those who use them.

Our goal is to craft a strategy for creating successful users. And that strategy is full of surprising, counter-intuitive, and astonishingly simple techniques that don’t depend on a massive marketing or development budget. Techniques typically overlooked by even the most well-funded, well-staffed product teams.

The Art of Profitability

There are many ways to make profit and it is unlikely that your business does all of them. People will pay different prices for the same thing in different situations (think: Coke in the grocery store vs. Coke in a nice restaurant). Good profit models are easy to brainstorm and hard to execute.

As you read, continually re-focus on the implications for your organization. Make notes. Discuss with colleagues.

Here are some questions to get started:

  • How does profit happen for my company? For my competitors?
  • How well do all my people understand our profit models?
  • Is the organization aligned to help capitalize on them?
  • Are there new profit models that we could apply to improve profitability?
  • Which of our current initiatives could improve our profitability and should be accelerated? Which may actually impair it, and should be discontinued?
  • Which specific actions can my organization take in the next ninety days to improve our profit position

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team outlines the root causes of politics and dysfunction on the teams where you work, and the keys to overcoming them. Counter to conventional wisdom, the causes of dysfunction are both identifiable and curable. However, they don’t die easily. Making a team functional and cohesive requires levels of courage and discipline that many groups cannot seem to muster.

Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hype

The difference between helping and selling is just two letters If you’re wondering how to make your products seem more exciting online, you’re asking the wrong question. You’re not competing for attention only against other similar products. You’re competing against your customers’ friends and family and viral videos and cute puppies. To win attention these days you must ask a different question: “How can we help?” Jay Baer’s Youtility offers a new approach that cuts through the clut­ter: marketing that is truly, inherently useful. If you sell something, you make a customer today, but if you genuinely help someone, you create a customer for life.

The Art of Product Management: Lessons from a Silicon Valley Innovator

The Art of Product Management takes us inside the head of a product management thought leader. With color and humor, Rich Mironov gives us a taste of Silicon Valley’s tireless pursuit of great technology and its creation of new products. He provides strategic advice to product managers and tech professionals about start-ups, big organizations, how to think like a customer, and what things should cost. He also reminds us to love our products and our teams. The Art of Product Management brings together the best insights from more than seven years of Product Bytes, Rich Mironov’s long-running series on product strategy, technology companies, and how the two interact. This collection is for everyone who builds or markets the next new thing.

This is more a “how to think about products” book a set of templates. Product managers (and others who are deeply committed to great products) will recognize themselves and their daily process struggles. How do we think about customers and solutions? Why do organizations behave the way they do? This book captures the inner life of product champions.

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

The Lean Startup approach fosters companies that are both more capital efficient and that leverage human creativity more effectively. Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on “validated learning,” rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want. It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute.

Rather than wasting time creating elaborate business plans, The Lean Startup offers entrepreneurs – in companies of all sizes – a way to test their vision continuously, to adapt and adjust before it’s too late. Ries provides a scientific approach to creating and managing successful startups in a age when companies need to innovate more than ever.

42 Rules of Product Marketing: Learn the Rules of Product Marketing from Leading Experts from around the World

42 Rules of Product Marketing is a collection of product marketing wisdom and insights from forty-two experts from around the world. This book will expose you to the experience and knowledge of a group of the world’s leading product marketing experts with a range of perspectives in both consumer and business markets.

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About Jay Kruemcke

Jay Kruemcke is passionate about helping customers and partners achieve their goals. Jay is a currently a Senior Product Manager at SUSE. Jay is responsible for the SUSE Linux for High-Performance Computing, Linux for Arm, and Linux for Power servers. Jay released the first commercially supported Linux distribution for Arm in 2016. Jay completely restructured SUSE’s HPC offerings in 2017 to add support for Arm systems, provide longer term support, and continue to enhance the HPC Module. The HPC Module provides support for open software such as slurm as part of the SUSE HPC subscription. Jay has built an extensive career in product management based on being a bridge between customers and engineering teams. He has extensive experience in many areas including product positioning, driving future product directions, using social media for client collaboration, and evangelizing the capabilities and future directions of enterprise products. Prior to joining SUSE, Jay had a long career at IBM including many roles in the Power and Cloud Engineering and Offering teams. In addition to his product management experience, Jay has held a variety of technology roles at including product marketing, manager of a technical architecture team, briefing center staff, SAP systems management consultant, and as a system programmer and administrator Jay also volunteers with the Boy Scouts in multiple roles and with ProductCamp Austin. The postings on this site solely reflect the personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of my employer. Follow me on twitter @mr_sles and @phastflyer
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